Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading the Tea Leaves: the Democratic Presidential Nominee

I think we are likely to get a “socially liberal, economically conservative” woman of color. (And no, not necessarily Kamala Harris.)

I have a sick feeling. I am not sure that any economic conservative can win the necessary votes. The Democrats who vote will vote for her, but it will be hard for her to get the black working class and the youth vote to work for her enthusiastically, or to turn out for her.

Assuming she does win, we will then face more years where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Better that than the party of rape and treason, to be sure, but hard years. And who knows how any “economic conservative” will deal with the fossil fuel industry?

Sanders is in. Sigh.

He made the announcement this morning, on Vermont Public Radio.

On the one hand, I like him and his politics. On the other hand, he will have trouble winning both the nomination and the general election. There's a lot of women and blacks who hate him. His hippie and socialist past will be dragged out by his Republican opponent. And I fear that just running will kill him. The Presidency ages people, just running ages people, and Sanders is already an old man.

And where will the born-again progressives of the Democratic Party get their ideas from, if they cannot steal them from Sanders?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Bernie Sanders on sexism among his supporters

(More old business. I get tired of Sanders being blasted as sexist. I don't think he is, and he definitely doesn't condone it among his supporters.)

"It's disgusting. [...] Anybody who is supporting me and who is doing sexist things, we don't want them. I don't want them. That is not what this campaign is about." – Sen. Bernard Sanders

On the Sanders Medicare for All Proposal and the Problem of Health Care in the USA

(Old business; I'm cleaning out my backlog of "To be writtens.")

"Medicare for All," as advocated by the social democrats and democratic socialists, means universal coverage without out-of-pocket expenses. The Sanders proposal can be read at https://live-berniesanders-com.pantheonsite.io/issues/medicare-for-all/. What would be covered and how the system would be funded is spelled out.

"A method to stop price gouging by insurers and providers with market power." But this is why the insurance companies were brought on board; without guarantees that their profits would be maintained, even increased, they would have made the plan impossible to pass; it barely passed as it was.

As of 2017, the CDC found that 28.9 million Americans had no health plan. Full report: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur201805.pdf.

The ACA has huge coverage gaps (one of the largest is due to the Roberts Court.) Once people have enough income for the system to require insurance, the expenses fall mostly on working poor and lower middle-income people. This could, of course, be changed, but it would require either price regulation or higher taxes, both of which are going to be difficult.

The health insurance companies used to have full-time employees devoted to finding reasons to deny care to cancer patients, and other high-cost insureds. I see no reason beyond expediency to give those businesses anything – they've made their pile. Capitalism-worship is the only reason they still exist.

Considering pragmatic politics, I don't see good solutions to any of this. We need to fight to keep what we have, however poor it is. I don't want to lose the ACA trying to get something better. And the fight divides the opposition to the fascists.

Reflections on the Green New Deal

It's good, it's not perfect, and it's not enough.

It's a resolution. I support its passage. You can read it here. The bill as it stands mandates nothing and collects no revenue. Instead, it sets out an ambitious list of goals. The basic proposal is to switch the USA off of fossil energy and onto "renewables" (not completely defined – is nuclear power renewable?) and to hire a lot of people to do the job. There is also something of a laundry list of moderate left goals: indigenous rights, "equal pay for equal work," and so on. It's not a bad list. Some of the goals probably conflict with others, global policy must be addressed, and I hate the callout to family farms. (See Sarah Taber's critique.)

But it should have been passed 25 years ago.

By now we should have run the numbers and be implementing the programs. That we have not run the numbers worries me. A lot. We are near to the breaking point, and we haven't even tried to figure out a plan will work. Will wind and solar power be enough? How many climate refugees will there be? We don't know any of this. We don't even have estimates.

If it were up to me, I would put some of my old colleagues at the national labs on the job. Time has run out.

We need a real plan, not just ambitious goals.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Wealth and Race: Reflections on Two State of the Union Responses

I have watched the official Democratic response (10 minutes) from Stacey Abrams and the unofficial and resented response (30 minutes) from Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Abrams gave a short response, heavy on solidarity and consensus. It was impressive, the moreso since this is a woman who probably lost the governorship of Georgia due to Republican electoral shenanigans, and there are voters who just eat this stuff up, but I doubt that any meaningful compromise with the extremists who control the Republican Party is possible. Yet this is apparently the official position of the Democratic Party, as it has been for decades as much of the country was lost to Democrats.

After Abrams, Sanders gave a well-organized long response on social media, giving credit to Abrams. His response contrasted a democratic socialist position with that of President Trump and the Republicans. He started with a scathing critique of wealth inequality, moved on to the trade deficit and off-shoring of jobs, infrastructure, privatization, and health care. He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of this. And he went on. It was a very good speech – I have seldom seen Sanders given credit as an orator, but he is a very good one, and there was substance as well as style in his response.

I wish the Democratic leadership would take more of this up, but Sanders criticizes the very wealthy who fund many of the party's campaigns. It is striking how, even before Sanders gave his speech, there was talk about his trying to upstage Abrams, how even just giving a response on social media, which he has now done for three years, was somehow an attack on women and people of color. I don't see it. He spoke after Abrams, on platforms with much less reachthan national television, and gave her credit. He's a sitting Senator, he represents the views of a substantial faction of the Democratic Party, and I can't see any reason why he shouldn't give a response. No-one criticized Kamala Harris for giving a pre-response before Trump's speech – why does Sanders get slammed for it?

I think it is because critics of the disparities of wealth are always attacked, and this is an easy way to do it. Sanders is called racist and sexist. Elizabeth Warren is called racist. The people who do this haven't yet figured out how to call the Puerto Rican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez either racist or sexist, but there is already talk of running a Democratic candidate against her in the next primaries. Abrams, who probably privately is as much a critic of wealth as anyone, gave a speech which didn't touch on wealth at all, instead calling for consensus when she knows better than any of these that consensus would be unjust.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Angry: Perjury Charges Are Not Enough

We have here a BuzzFeed News report that Trump pressed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Russian property deal, suborning perjury. From BuzzFeed, the source of gossip, memes, and sexy photos. Multiple Congressional Democrats are (finally!) talking about starting impeachment proceedings. Not for mass child theft at the border, not for withholding emergency aid that could have saved thousands of lives in Puerto Rico, not for probable treason. For lying to Congress.

We have Oregon Senator Merkley referring Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen to the FBI for perjuring herself. Not for stealing thousands of children. For lying to Congress.

I am glad these criminals (alleged criminals, all right) have been caught out and are probably going down. Maybe, eventually, there will be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission that will deal with the crimes against humanity. Maybe there will be actual charges against the so-many Homeland Security officials who participated. Maybe there will someday be a trial for treason for Trump and all the people who probably sold out to Vladimir Putin's Russia. But not today, not yet. For now the only penalties are bad names among obscure bloggers and Twitter commentators.

And maybe all the criminals will die in their beds, untroubled by any significant punishment beyond bad names.

Fk Trump. Fk the Republicans. Fk the child thieves. Fk the rapists. Fk the millions who support these crimes.

“Fuck every cause that ended in murder and a child screaming.” – Iain Banks